Thursday, January 30, 2014

BG lands highly regard WR Commitment

BGSU has a new football verbal, and he's a WR, the 3rd one BG has added since Coach Babers arrived.  This guy has had some big-time recruiting interest, and as you can see, was also being recruited by the Rockets, at least according to that report.

He's from Florida--Dwyer High School--which is in the Palm Beach area, and the home to current Falcons Darrell Hunter and Mike Minns.  They won the class 7A state championship this year (that's Florida's second highest division).

The young man is very highly regarded.  With the usual caveat that this kind of info can be sketchy, rivals is saying he has or had offers from Florida State, West Virginia and Miami, among many others.  They list him as a 2-star recruit.  ESPN has him as a 3-star and a "78" and the 98th WR in the nation.  He's the highest rated player in our current class (according to them) just in front of WR Roger Lewis.

Clint is 5'10" and 170, but is very productive in space, which is what the Babers offense is supposed to create.

Here is a snippet from ESPN.

Is slippery as an athlete in space and is at his best when he can get the ball in the open field and make things happen.

So, a very exciting get for the Falcons.   Welcome to the Falcons, Clint.

Note:  I see here that Clint had an injury that limited him for the 2nd half of his senior year. The same article says that BG plans to use him at CB. 

EMU Dominates BG in re-match

It was a long night in Ypsilanti for the Falcons.  I don't usually talk about things like effort and hunger because they are difficult to observe.  I don't mind saying the team didn't get results, but I am always hesitant to talk about people not trying.  If they said it, however...just a note here...after the last two games, BG players and coaches have said themselves that BG did not play with enough hunger to compete.

Anyway.  The first half was relatively competitive, BG had a lead for a while and was only down 27-24 with about 3 left.  In what has become a little bit of a trend, they gave up a late first half was modest, 12-5...but enough for EMU to lead by 10 at the break and from there it was largely over.  You have to wonder if BG's lack of depth is hurting them in the late first half.

BG got the game to 5 a couple times in the second half, but it was never again a one possession game and EMU led by 10 or more for almost the entire final 9 minutes of the game.  With 2:25 left they were up by 19 before some garbage time stuff got the game down to the final, 69-57.

In other words, this was not close, really.

We talked a lot about BG playing very good defensive basketball and now for the second straight game BG played very average defensive basketball.  EMU had 1.06 points per possession...the Falcons have allowed 1.05 in 7 games and lost them all.  BG defended the shot effectively, EMU's FG shooting was below their average.  The problem was everything else.  They turned the ball over only 10 times (16% of total possessions), so they had more shooting possessions and they got a ridiculous 43.9% of their available offensive rebounds.  They also got to the line 28 times, and if they hadn't shot 60% the score would have been even wider.  Even at that, they were +8 at the FT line.

Meanwhile, BG shot right in line with their season average and EMU's defensive average, while turning the ball over on 26% of their possessions, having only average offensive rebounding and getting to the line only 14 times and shooting 64% when they got there.  BG had .88 points per possession, and while that was much higher than they got against EMU last time, it was not enough to win, especially with the team not defending effectively.

Individually, BG had no answer for Glenn Bryant.  Dude came off the bench, scored 26 on 10 of 18 shooting with 10 rebounds and 7 on the offensive glass.  He had a career night against the Falcons last night.  We play Javon McCrea next, for what it is worth.

Richaun Holmes was back on form with 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting and 9 rebounds.  He did have 5 turnovers.  Anthony Henderson had 12 points on 4 of 7 from 3FG and Spencer Parker had a tough 10...4 of 11 shooting to go with 7 rebounds.

Jehvon Clarke had 9 points in a long night...3 of 12 shooting, 4 assists and 3 turnovers.

Cam Black struggled to shoot, at 2 of 7, but he had 10 rebounds.  On the other hand, even though he and Holmes had nice rebounding nights, I assume they were the ones who were supposed to be keeping Bryant off the boards, too.

In a final note, Lyshe played 15 minutes and Tisdale 6.

BG is now 3-4 in the MAC and in sole possession of 8th play and with a 1-game lead over Kent and NIU, who are 2-5.  BG returns home next to play Buffalo, which is 5-2.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Babers Announces Coaching Staff (Mostly)

Coach Babers unveiled almost his entire coaching staff yesterday.  There were no real surprises.  As expected, with the exception of Nick Monroe, Coach Babers has brought his staff from EIU over and has kept them in the same positions.

Coach McDaniel's recent departure has left one vacancy that has yet to be filled.  By the process of elimination, it would be another receivers coach, but we will have to see about that.

All coaches do this differently.  Coach Clawson blended holdovers, BG coaches and completely new coaches at Wake Forest.  Coach Babers has chosen this approach.  He needs to have the people around him that he feels can help him succeed, for which he is ultimately accountable.

The one small surprise is that he will have co-offensive coordinators at BG.  Sterlin Gilbert was the OC at EIU, and at BG he will share the job with O-line coach Matt Mattox.  I believe that I read that Babers calls the plays anyway.

Beyond that, you can read the BGSU site to get an idea of where these guys have coached.  The proof will come in the performance, but I'm excited because of the success these guys had right away at EIU with a team that was under-performing.

Bizarro World...MAC Road Teams Win

So, for years it has been a staple of accepted fact that it is hard to win on the road in the MAC.  You heard it on press conferences every week, uttered of course by the losing coach.

It is hard to win on the MAC.

As in....

The sun rises in the East.
Water flows downhill.
It is hard to win on the road in the MAC.

Look, it isn't like it wasn't borne out by the facts.  Last year, the home team won 56% of conference games and the year before the home team won 67%.

So, people were not prepared for what has happened so far this year...which is....

It isn't that hard to win on the road.  In fact, it is easier than winning at home.

So far.

That's right...road teams have won 53% of the games this year.  And while I don't necessarily see this carrying out for the whole year, for this season it has thrown the whole thing into chaos.  Two years ago, four teams lost zero or one game.  This year, only six teams even have a chance.

Anyway, this will be interested to track as time goes on.  For right now....its Bizarro World.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eagle Redux

So courtesy of the new MAC 18-game schedule, we now have the opportunity to play two games against some of the West opponents.  Of course, UT and in this case, EMU.

The first meeting was...shall we say....odd.

EMU was 56-51.  The odd thing, as you can see, is that you have two of the worst shooting teams you will ever see.  BG shot 31% and EMU 35%.  What got the game into the stratospheric 50s was that there were 47 fouls called and a total of 58 FTs attempted.  EMU made 70% and BG made 58% and that was the difference.  Holmes had 17 and 7 for BG, and Mike Talley--who has now shredded BG in 2 uniforms--had 14 for the Eagles.

EMU is 3-3 in the MAC, just like BG.  In their last game, they led OU for 39:30 before losing the lead and the game late.  In the MAC, they have won @BG, @CMU and WMU, while losing @Buffalo, Akron and OU.

EMU is 8-3 at home overall, which is hard to believe since their building provides almost no atmosphere.

EMU is just a very good defensive basketball team, just slightly less efficient than BG.  They play a really active 2-3 zone with long guys on the wing.  Very tough.  The difference is that on offense, they are considerably better than BG, even if they are below average in the whole NCAA.  That's going to be the key matchup.  BG jut has to win the battle on the defensive end after a subpar game against Miami.

When breaking down the EMU defense as it stacks up against the BG offense, we see that this is a relatively evenly matched game....EMU's offense seems to end up pretty much where BGs opponents do on the stats, which makes it strange that there is such a spread between their overall efficiency and BG's defensive efficiency.  They do get to the line a lot, but they shoot 67% which is below average.  

Flipping things around...the most interesting thing is on FG shooting.  As poorly as BG shoots, they are playing a team that actually holds shooters even below that.  You are not going to see that too much.  Anyway, EMU is #16 in preventing made FGs, something that is bound to make Bowling Green nervous.  The only reason EMU isn't even better on defense is that they are not good on the boards, which is partly the result of how active their zone is.  Note that they do a nice job generating turnovers, even in a zone.

Offensively, EMU is led by Karrington Ward with 13.8 PPG.  He also leads the team with 6.8 rebounds.  He is only shooting 43%.  Glenn Bryant is scoring 10.3 PPG shooting 56% and 5.3 rebounds.  A key player in their zone is DaShonte Riley, who is averaging 6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks and who knows how many altered shots.  Finally, PG Mike Talley is scoring 10.3 PPG on 38% shooting and 3.5 assists over 2.2 turnovers.

Anyway, all indications are that this game will be a lot like the first one.  Having said that, for BG to win they are going to need to find a way to get some kind of scoring.  The guards have been shooting better and they are going to need it.  And, BG is going to have to play a strong defensive game, because BG is only going to do so well against the EMU defense.

Sentinel on Dino Babers, Film Buff

The contrast is interesting to me.  With Dave Clawson, we had the most buttoned-down, normal personally conservative coach in college football.

With Dino Babers, we have something very different.  He is brash.  First thing he tells the players is to "loosen up a little bit."  Talk about "leaving the cake in the oven a little longer."

Everybody has their style.  It is just different.

The Sentinel was back last week with an interesting story on Babers.  Here is a quote that illustrates how Babers is a different kind of guy:

You guys are just going to see the colors, you are not going to see the lines in the Matrix.

OK, then.  The thrust of the story is that Babers is a movie buff.  He selects films for the team to watch on the bus rides and then he quizzes the team about the relevance of the film to the upcoming game.  Which is an interesting way to engage your team.

This isn't terribly new.  Woody Hayes used to take his team to a movie on Friday night before road games and considered the choice of the movie an important part of his strategy.  He wanted something manly, not sappy.

A couple football things.  Coach says that he does not expect to have his offense fully up and running until the middle of 2015.  He says we will be all "giddy" but it won't really be the way he wants it until the middle of the second season.

Do not despair, however.  This is not a guy who is writing a year off.  Remember, first, that he won his conference at EIU his first year, and the team he took over had been in last place.  Second, he talks about meshing what BG did well and what he has done well, not throwing everything out:

It doesn’t mean we are going to do it the old BGSU way, and it doesn’t mean we’re going to do it the old place I came from way.  There are obviously some things that were good here, and there were obviously some things we did good at the other place. What we want to do is mesh it together, and come out with a composite that is stronger than both of the other ways.

Anyway, he is an interesting guy in the best sense of the word, and I'm looking forward to seeing BG what meshes as BG defends the MAC Title.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Falcon Football Players Named All-MAC Academic

The MAC Champion Bowling Green Falcons won another competition last week, when they led the MAC with 5 players on the All-Academic team for the conference.

You know how I feel about this.  It is not necessary to sacrifice academics to win in the MAC, and this proves it.  Our athletes should graduate and some of them should excel in the classroom.

Falcon honorees were Tyler Beck, David "Chief" Kekuewa, Tyler Tate, Ronnie Goble, and Chris Pohlman.  You can check out their specific accomplishments at the BGSU web site.  

Congrats to all 5 of these young men.  You are great representatives of the University we love.

Studrawa to Maryland and getting AQ assistants to the MAC

First, some good news.  Former Falcon player and assistant Greg Studrawa has landed at the University of Maryland.  He left LSU after a number of years--including time as OC--and was rumored to be in the mix at Oklahoma State before getting hired for the Terps.  Hopefully, he kept his resume fresh, because I don't think the Edsall regime is going to last.

A number of people were asking why he wasn't considered for the Head Coaching job at BG when it was open, being that he is a Falcon and all.  Obviously, none of us knows if he was or not.  Ryan Autullo of The Blade had a nice piece in the paper over the weekend about how the increased salaries of big-time assistants is impacting MAC Coaching searches.

Back in the day, the MAC move was to get an up and coming coordinator from a big school.  Now, those guys often make more than MAC head coaches.  Autullo says that Chuck Martin took a 200K pay cut to come to Miami.  It could shed some light on why both BG and EMU went to a lower level to find their new Coach.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Falcons Continue to Confound, Lose to Miami

The Falcons are a tough team to figure out.  Lose at home to @WMU and @OU...lose at home to Miami.

The MAC is a little bit of a bizarro world situation this year.  Normally, winning on the road is all but impossible, but this year it is about 50/50...all 4 road teams won yesterday.

By their own admission, BG did not come out hungry against Miami, and that was the key difference in the game.

The loss ended BG's 3-game winning streak and leaves BG 3-3 in MAC play.

There were two key elements to the defeat.  The first is that BG did not defend well.  BG's winning formula has been to play adequate offense while providing MAC-leading defense.  Believe it or not, the offense did its part.  BG scored 1.02 points per possession, which is their highest total in a losing game this season.  The defense allowed Miami 1.09 points per possession, however, which is BG's 3rd worst defensive game of the season.  BG's offense is just not going to be able to win if the defense allows that kind of scoring.

The second was free throw.  Miami made 22 out of 26 free throws and BG only made 9 of 17...leaving the Falcons -13 in that stat alone.  BG had shot FTs well during that streak and did not in their home environment yesterday.

BG actually came out like they were ready to assert themselves.  BG ran out to a 7-2 lead.  The game was tied at 17 before the Falcons pushed it back out to 23-17 with about 5 minutes left in the first half.  From that point until the break, Miami was completely dominant, scoring 19 and holding 5 and taking an 8 point lead into the locker room.  That's a failure on both sides of the ball, you can't allow either of those things to happen.

That part of the game really set the tone for what followed.  Miami never trailed again and BG spent the 2nd half in chase mode.  Miami was still up 8 (47-39) with 13 left when BG went on a 6-0 run to get the lead to 2.  They needed a stop and Miami's Will Sullivan nailed a 3 to get it back to 5 and BG was never closer than 4 (and as far as 10) until there were :06 left and the issue was largely decided.

Miami shot the ball effectively, at 47% and 38% and both well above BG's defensive averages of 43%/31%.  It was a slow game at 64 possessions, so that impacts how you look at the overall stats.  Miami took average care of the ball, didn't do anything on the offensive boards and made a ridiculous number of free throws to put together their winning offensive approach.

Just one other note as it relates to BG's defense.  We noted in our preview that Will Sullivan was the best 3FG shooter by % in the MAC.  He was open way too often and made 4 out of 6, one of them at a critical juncture of the game.  You just have to know where that guy is when he is out there.

The Miami defensive strategy was clearly to clog up the middle.  In fact, this is the 2nd straight game that strategy has been employed.  When you have a player like Richaun Holmes, teams are going to try to take him away.  BG only shot 42% overall, but took a season-high 23 3FGs, making 10 of them (tying a season high).  So, in total, BG's outside play did respond reasonably well to the Miami strategy...some of those 3FGs were late when the issue was mostly decided, but having said that, I think BG took what Miami was giving them in the half court.

The undoing was the FTs, as mentioned previously.  BG was average in terms of turnovers and did a credible job on the offensive boards.  They did not get to the line enough and did not make them when they did get there, and that was the offensive flaw that cost them the game.

Individually, Jehvon Clarke had a career high 22 points on 8 of 16 and 4 of 8 shooting.  Made both HIS FTs and had 6 assists.  He did have 6 turnovers, ending his streak of strong A/T ratio games.  Still, people have been calling out for the guards to contribute when teams pack it in on Holmes, and Clarke did that.

Anthony Henderson contributed 15 points in less efficient manner, going 5 of 13 overall and a respectable 4 of 9 from 3.  No other Falcon ended up in double figures.  Holmes had 9 points but Parker really struggled at 2 of 7 shooting.  Black had 9 rebounds and Parker had 8.

So, it is a disappointing set back for the Falcons.  You can have  a poor defensive game once in a while, but the free throw thing is a chronic problem that is really disappointing.  This morning, BG is #340 in the nation in FT%.

Next up is a road rematch with EMU, which defeated BG in the league opener.  If you are trying to predict what is going to happen in the MAC this year, good luck.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

RedHawk Preview

Having won two games that they were not supposed to win, BGSU now enters a game in an unfamiliar position--BG is now playing a game they are supposed to win.

Supposed to win has not been a great position to be in the MAC this year.  There were the BG upsets, Ball State over Buffalo, etc.  The conference is resisting performing according to form.

BG is riding a 3-game winning streak and welcome the Miami RedHawks to town.  Miami has had some serious issues in the post-Coles years.  A number of players have transferred and the program--traditionally one of the MAC's strongest--has been at an historic low ebb over the past few years.

They are 7-9 and 3-2 so far this year, which is probably ahead of where they might have been expected to be.  They played a very tough opening schedule and lost their first 4, so they are 7-5 since then.  They lost to DIII Wilmington, @Evansville (RPI 218) and @UMKC (194).   They beat IPFW and Wright State (both at Millet), teams BG did not beat.  In fact, IPFW is their best win.

In the MAC, their record is probably a little misleading.  Their three wins are CMU twice and @Ball State.  They lost by 1 against WMU and 7 @Akron.

One of the first changes John Cooper made when he replaced Charlie Coles was to move to a more uptempo attack.  Which wasn't hard, since The Evil Genius ran the untempo attack.  This year, Miami is running at 67 possessions a game, almost exactly what BG is.  As you can see below, they are not great on either side of the ball.  Remembering that the D1 average is 1.05 or so this year, they are 9th in the MAC in offensive efficiency.  They are also 9th in defensive efficiency.

This seems like a good match up for BG.  The Falcons are very effective on defense and just need enough offense to be able to win.  This looks like an attack BG can control and a defense that is soft enough that the Falcons can get the points they need to win.

Looking at the Miami offense against the BG defense, we see that Miami is an average shooting team (6th in the MAC), and average at protecting the ball.  They are not good on the offensive boards (another break for the Falcons) and they the worst team in the MAC at getting to the line.  They are the best FT shooting team by %, but even with the best % they are last in FTs made.  You will know BG is in trouble if the RedHawks are getting to the line a lot.

Flipping it around, we see that the RedHawks struggles really come in just one place...they are terrible at defending the shot.  Last in the conference.  Otherwise, they are not bad.  They create slightly above average turnovers and protect the boards effectively and keep teams off the line.  Even as rarely as they shoot FTs, their opponents have shot even fewer.  The Four Factors are listed L-R in order of importance and it isn't close...shooting is by far the most important.  You can see where BG typically shoots...if they can bump that up even a little, they will be in excellent position.

Individually, Miami's best player is Will Felder.  He's a 6'7" SR who is averaging 15.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG.  He's efficient, too, shooting 55% from the field and 83% from the line.  He's a high quality player and will present a test for our inside guys.

They have gotten a couple guys back who were out, and in that sense they are a better team than they were earlier.  The best example is Bill Edwards, who transferred from Penn State and has had one injury after another.  He returned to the line up 4 games ago, scored 24 against WMU and then settled down a little.  He had 13 against CMU in their last game.  He is a 6'6" SR who helps them a lot when he is in the game.

The other guy that is back is Willie Moore.  He is a 6'3" G who transferred from Oregon, was suspended by the NCAA for selling Duck swag back at his old school.  He has played the last 7 games and been in double figures 3 times and at least gives a short handed team some depth.

As these guys were added back into the mix, there was a subtraction.  Reggie Johnson, Miami's 2nd leading scorer, left the team early in the year and is transferring.

6'3" G Geovanie McKnight is averaging 9.9 PPG on 43% shooting.  Quentin Rollins remains at the point, where he is averaging 4.2 assists and 6.2 points.  Finally, G Will Sullivan is averaging 8 PPG, scored 20 in their last game and leads that MAC with 47% 3FG shooting.

This is a team that seems to have been in a lot of flux all year.  BG has been playing well, but we're all waiting to see if the team can develop some consistency.  This is a good home...winnable game.  Looking forward to seeing BG win it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jehvon Clarke Factoid....

A Jehvon Clarke factoid....

Through the EMU game, counting only D1 games:

54 assists, 54 turnovers.

In the last 4 games:

21 assists, 9 turnovers.

That's a 2.3 ratio for the last 4 games.  Just for perspective, Julius Brown is at 2.4 for the year, leading the MAC.

I'm not comparing the ability to perform this way for 4 games to being able to do it for 18 games.  As we watch Clarke's improvement, we should just know this...if he can sustain this pace, he is handling the ball at a high level based on his MAC peers.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

BG Football Adds Transfer (Potentially Significant) QB, Callaway to play baseball and football

Some relatively big news for the football program.  BG has a QB transfer coming in from Texas Tech.  The Blade reported this morning that Clayton Nicholas is in school now and will sit out next year before being eligible the following year, which would be Johnson's senior year.

Nicholas is a big get.  According to, he was a 4-star recruit coming into Lubbock.  He's 6'3" and 205 lbs.  They ranked him as the #23 QB in the nation.  Their scouting report on him is's a snippet.

Nicholas may be one of the better pure passers this class has to offer and it is shocking that he has very little interest this spring. Possesses one of the elite arms in this class and will deliver some eye-popping throws especially in the deep passing game.

Ratings are ratings.  Obviously, he isn't breaking into the lineup at Texas Tech.  Could still be a very, very good QB in the MAC.  He'll get a full year (with 2 springs) of practices before he's eligible.  He would enter BG as a JR.

The second piece of news also relates to a QB.  Based on this tweet (with no other confirmation), Cody Calloway will be a dual-sport athlete at BG.  He was recruited at QB but also had a bunch of offers to play baseball.

Falcons Astound, Defeat OU

Well, if you were one of the people (like me) who despaired after the NIU loss, it appears that it was premature.  If you wondered (as I did) how you could win any game if you had not won that game, then you have to say this:  if you can win at OU, where can't you win?

Let's stop for a moment and appreciate what is happening here.  This was a team picked to finish last in the division and I don't know how many people outside the program disagreed with that.  Then, the team lost Chauncey Orr for the season and Craig Sealey now for 10 games.  Not that those guys are lottery picks, but you could certainly use them.  Zach Denny, who was expected to contribute, has only played in 3 games.

Essentially, you took a team that was not expected to be good, limited it to 6 players (one of them a FR) and then went and won games @WMU and @OU consecutively.  This team is clearly overachieving, and for all the criticism which has been heaped upon the current Coach, he has to get some of the credit for this.

It is the last year of his deal.  Everyone knows it.  A week ago, there was every reason for this team to pack its bags up and wait for the new guy.  This did not happen.  This team is giving as courageous and inspiring effort as any Falcon men's team I have seen in a long time and they are clearly overachieving.  As fans, we should appreciate it.

It is the first win @OU since 2009, the year the Falcons won the MAC regular season title.  It is the first time (I learned from Matt Daley on twitter) that BG has beaten OU and WMU on the road in the same season since the 90-91 season.  This has turned into a very interesting part of the season.

Obviously, every game is a new challenge, but we have to appreciate the effort that has gotten us here.

The game in Athens certainly did not start out the way we would hope.  Six minutes into the game, in fact, OU was out to a 15-4 lead and it was looking like your worst case road scenario.  Down 16-6, BG then went on a 12-0 run to take the lead with 8 minutes left in the first half and the game remained close until OU closed it out on a 5-0 to enter halftime up 3.

Still, BG had to feel pretty good about where they were.  Two minutes into the second half the game was tied again.  Here's the amazing part.  BG took the lead with 11:06 left on an Anthony Henderson 3-ball and except for one possession where OU was ahead by 1, the Bobcats never led again.

With 2 minutes left the game was still close.  BG had a 3 point lead on a Jehvon Clarke layup.  The Falcons got a stop and Clarke came down and hit another shot and BG led by 5 with 1:31 left.

OU nailed a 3 to cut it to 2 with 1:07 left, but that would be all the scoring that the game would see.

The last minute was not pretty.  OU racheted up the pressured and BG really struggled to get the ball up floor.  The problem for OU was that BG was not in the bonus yet, so when they fouled BG it reset the shot clock.  The Falcons used 3 timeouts in the last minute and finally Clarke was fouled and sent to the line.

It was only a 1-1 (which almost never happens late in a game) and he missed the front end.  OU came down but it sounded like BG played very stingy defense, allowing Kellogg a less than ideal shot and an off balance one where he had to shoot off the dribble (Coach Stone said BG tries to force teams to not catch and shoot in that situation) and he missed and BG had the win.

The first guy to mention individually is Jehvon Clarke.  I was with everyone else...guy wasn't shooting and was turning the ball over more than he was getting assists.  For the last few games, that has really turned around.  Last night, he had 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting with 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover.  Coach Stone contended that it has taken him some time to develop as a PG and you can't argue with what you see, which is that he is improved.

Spencer Parker also continues to play well.  He had 15 points on 6 of 12 shooting, 6 rebounds and only 2 turnovers.

Overall, the offensive performance was good enough but not great (more in a second), and that largely came from the shooting woes of Holmes, Henderson, Black and Tisdale.  Holmes still finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds (4 offensive) and Black finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds, though he is still struggling to score.

Anyway, 188 of the 200 minutes in the game were played by 6 guys.

In fact, it was defense that won this game.  I am as interested in stats as the next guy, but we have to concede these facts.  Our team is playing very good defense and only using 6 guys, so those guys must be good defenders even when they aren't shooting.  Which is important to keep in mind.

BG scored .95 points per possession, which is above the team average.  Meanwhile, OU usually scores 1.05 and BG held them to .92, which is exactly BG's season average.  The Falcons mixed man, zone and pressure defenses.  They seem to be finding a nice rhythm.  They start halves in the man and then switch to the zone and teams are having a hard time adjusting.  After the game, Coach Christian was critical of himself for how they attacked the zone.

For the season OU is shooting 45/32, but they got 42/27 in this game, which is an accomplishment for BG.  The biggest issue was turnovers, though.  It was only a 61 possession game, which is slow, and OU had 18 turnovers, which is 29% of their overall possessions and when you combine that number of blank possessions with the low shooting.

OU did a good job on the offensive boards and in getting to the line but BG was actually better on the boards and made 85% of its free throw attempts, meaning that while OU got to the line 4 more times there was only a net +1 advantage in made FTs for the Bobcats.

All this is to say that BG played very effective defense against OU and good enough offense to win the game and that's a model we should be looking for moving forward.

Next up is Miami at the Stroh, certainly a winnable game.  That would give BG a 3-0 week when they could easily have gone 1-2.  After that, a rematch with EMU at their place.  Regardless of what happens, the season is turning out better than expected and is becoming very interesting.  I look forward to seeing how this team develops from here until March.

Last note:  Here's a little highlight for you...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bobcat Preview

The challenge's for the men's basketball team will continue tomorrow night as the Falcons make the long trip down to Athens, OH, one of the MAC's toughest assignments to take on what is probably one of the top 2 teams in the MAC.

The OU Bobcats deserve credit.  The names Cooper, Baltic, Offut and Keely are gone--4 of their top 5 scorers--and yet OU appears to have not missed a beat.  They are 13-4 this year.  The losses are to @Ohio State, UMass, @Oakland and Akron (in OT).  I am sure the Oakland lost is something they wish they had back, but it certainly it isn't a bad loss.  OSU and UMass are really good and the Akron game was excellent and a tough home loss.

Their RPI is 72 and they are 8-2 at home this season.  After losing to Akron, they crushed Ball State in Akron and NIU in DeKalb.

They have a decent ensemble cast, with two clear leaders.  One of those is a familiar face...Nick Kellogg.  He's scoring 14.7 points per game on 48% shooting and 45% shooting from beyond the arc.  He leads the MAC in 3FGs.  That will get it done.

He is joined by 6'9" newcomer Maurice Ndour.  He is scoring 14.9 PPG on 51% shooting with 7.2 RPG and 1.8 blocks.  He's an interesting guy.  He is from Senegal, speaks five languages and was highly recruited out of Monroe JC in New York.  This was a great get for the Bobcats and he is having an All-MAC season.

Their third-leading scorer was Ricardo Johnson, but he suffered a serious leg injury and is not expected to return.  They also have Stevie Taylor with 7.6 points and 3 assists, Jon Smith with 7 points and 6 rebounds and TJ Hall with 8 points a game.

In terms of the numbers, you don't have to go much farther than this chart to see why OU is 14-3.  They are scoring 1.05 points per possession and allowing only .93.  In other words, they about as effective as BG is on defense and they are much better on offense.  Their offensive efficiency is just NCAA average for this year, but its plenty when balanced against the defense.  As you can see, BG continues to struggle offensively, although they have had a couple good nights in a row.

OU is getting there with solid shooting...that's 45% overall and 37% from beyond the arc.  They take good care of the basketball and do a credible job on the offensive boards.  They don't get to the line a ton, but they shoot 72% when they do get there.  What you have there is a portrait of a solid, average D1 offense.  As you can see, the numbers BG allows are pretty similar.  If BG can force some turnovers and defend the shot a little better than OU is used to, they will increase their chances to win.

Flipping things around, we see a team that is incredibly good at defending the shot.  Opponents are shooting 38% and 31% against them.  It is worth noting that OU holds teams shooting well below even where BG has shot for the season.  That's strong.  Combine that with a good ability to force turnovers, solid work on the defensive boards and that's where you get a team that is hard to score on.  They do foul a lot and BG has a chance to take advantage if their FT shooting is as effective as it has been in the last 2 games.

Given OU's ability to guard the shot, this one has to be worrying for the Falcons.  On the road in a tough environment, you can see BG struggling to make baskets and then the whole thing snowballing on the orange and brown.  Having said that, that was more or less who it looked when BG went into Kalamazoo and that one went OK.  I guess the point is that it will take something along those lines...something like that or something better to win the game in Athens.

BG will need to get the widespread production that it got out Sunday.  I have a feeling that teams will mimic the WMU strategy and guard Holmes hard inside, and the team has to respond to that.

BG Football Assistant moving on....

Coach Babers kept two coaches from the Clawson staff...Nick Monroe and Larry McDaniel.  Today, we see that McDaniel is leaving to go to his alma mater, which is Indiana University.  He was d-line Coach at BG for 3 years and will have the same position at Indiana.

We've had great d-line play over that of those guys started a game last Sunday and other players really developed.  I'm sure it is huge for Coach McDaniel to return to his alma mater, and I wish him nothing but the best.

Monday, January 20, 2014

BG Football Players in All-Star Games

BG had two players compete over the weekend in all-star competition designed to showcase Seniors for NFL Scouts.

Boo Boo Gates made the bigger splash.  He was in the NFLPA game and had an INT and a PR, and while I didn't see it, he was apparently getting a lot of run from the announcing.  I would be surprised if Boo Boo is drafted but I would be 0% surprised if he made an NFL roster.  He's versatile, athletic, and a very good football player.  He'd be a special teams monster, if nothing else.

The other player was Alex Bayer in the East-West Shrine game.  He didn't generate any stats.  He was targeted once by Jordan Lynch, without a reception.

Important to remember that the scouts watch practice, too, and they are just as interested in that, if not more so.

Anthony Henderson MAC East Men's Player of the Week

Anthony Henderson was awarded the MAC East Player of the Week for this week.  And, it was well deserved.

He has been in a season-long shooting slump, but responded with 13 points against CMU and 27 against WMU in what was his best career game from a scoring and shooting standpoint.

Congrats to Anthony.  Moving through the MAC schedule, if BG can get his confidence up it will make a huge difference in terms of making BG harder to defend.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Boom! Falcons Notch Huge Road Win

So, with about 14 minutes left in the game, honestly, you had to figure BG had next to no chance at winning today.  WMU is a good team and they are tough at home and they were rolling.  With 7 left in the first half, the game had been tied at 23, but WMU had gone on a 16-4 run to end the half and then over the first 6 minutes of the second half blown the lead out 3 more to 50-35.

And then BG came alive.  They have their faults, but they aren't quitters, they have played tough in every game.  They scored the game's next 10 points (8 by Anthony Henderson) to slice the lead to 5 and wake everybody up.  From there, BG had a 9-4 run...all on 3s (Henderson 2, Lyshe 1) and the game was tied 8:41 left.

Now you see this a lot.  Team executes a furious rally to get back into the game but finds they expended what they had to get it close and end up losing.  You'd especially expect to see the road team have this problem.

But that wasn't what happened.  WMU never lead by more than 3, which they did with 4:15 left in the game.

From here, BG closed the game on a 9-1 run to end up with the 5 point Falcon victory.

We'll look at the scoring in a moment, but let's keep an eye on the defensive side of the ball.  BG got a bunch of stops, holding WMU without scoring at all for the last 2:05 of the game.  That's impressive and that shows who the stronger team was at the end of the game.

BG was was 2 with about 2 minutes left.  Jehvon Clarke--he of the struggling shot--stepped back and nailed a 3 to give BG the lead.  The teams then traded turnover before Parker fouled Conner Tava.  He did BG a huge favor by missing both free throws.  BG came down and caught WMU in some broken coverage and Henderson had a layup to put BG up 3 with :15 left.

WMU had a shot, but their conference leading scorer, David Brown, missed a long 3 and Richaun Holmes--who had a very long day--grabbed the rebound and then converted 2 FTs and the game was over.  BG had a huge road win under its belt.

WMU is a strong physical team.  They were clearly determined to keep BG away from its inside game.  And, it largely worked.  Holmes battled foul trouble and shot 3 of 11.  Black shot 0 for 7.  Parker was 3 for 7.

What happened was interesting.  BG actually got scoring from the outside from the guards.  The key player for the game was Anthony Henderson.  I've certainly mentioned his struggling shooting, but the dude was just unconscious.  He shot 10 of 16, 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and scored 27 points.  The points and the 3FGs were both career highs.  He had 4 steals, too.

Jehvon Clake was 5 of 13 shooting, which is not great but he also made 2 of 5 from beyond the arc.  And JD Tisdale and Demarkeo Lyshe both nailed key shots as well.

So, WMU took away the inside game and the guards delivered from the outside, something we have not seen much of this year.

You don't want to project too much ahead, but I have said it before.  If BG starts to get some outside shooting, this team is a different team.

I don't want to leave the discussion of the big guys with their shooting.  They did contribute. Black, for example, had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal.  Holmes had 5 rebonds and 3 blocks...also 3 turnovers.  Parker had 2 steals...and 4 turnovers.

Anyway, just making the point.  They did contribute.  Just a tough night shooting.

BG was actually outshot a little bit by WMU, but the 3-ball evened it out (yeah, I really wrote that and its right).  WMU shot 45% overall and 33% from 3...while BG was 40% and 56%.  The other difference was turnovers.  As you can see below, BG had a big (-6) advantage in turnovers.  Offensive rebounds were an advantage to WMU, and while WMU got to the line more than BG, the Falcons made the most of what they had at the line, making 11 of 15.  WMU was also good at 14 of 20, but if BG had one of its normal FT nights, this result could have been different.

In total, BG scored 1.02 points per possession, which is not great but good enough for BG to win.  BG held WMU to .94 points per possession, which is .11 below their normal average.

So BG gets an very big road win, not just because of who and where it was, but also because of how it happened.  BG was way down and could easily have packed it in, but they rallied and then they finished and I hope they had a really nice bus ride home because they deserve it.

BG is now 2-2 in the MAC.  They go to OU Wednesday--certainly another tough assignment--but then have Miami at home Saturday.  This win means BG has a chance to go 2-1 for the week and end the week at .500.  Beyond that, you'd love to see the team develop some confidence and develop and outside game to go with the inside game.  Time will tell, but today was a very encouraging game.

CBS Checks in on the foul emphasis

So, CBS Sports has looked at the foul emphasis and they have a long article about it.  It is pretty interesting.  Fouls per game are going down, but you're going to have to win an argument about whether defenses are fouling less or if the refs have tightened the grip.

Scoring is up, year to year....4 points per game per team, and points per possession is up about .03, which doesn't sound like much but it is significant.  They are a little less than 2 team fouls per game more than last year, all of which suggests that defenses are beginning to adjustl

The most interesting thing is looking at the weekly data they compiled.  Essentially, while points per possession has remained stable, the total number of possessions has steadily dropped and with it the points per game.  I don't understand why.  Fouls have dropped as well, but you'd think an open floor will bring quicker baskets, but apparently that's not happening.

Which, in the end, means that the NCAA is not going to get what they wanted with this emphasis.  Scoring is continuing to languish.  My prediction is that the next thing they try is to bring the shot clock down again.

That might or might not work.  Here's the thing...what if the real issue is that the players are not skilled on the offensive end of the floor?  Reducing the shot clock could make the problem worse.

The re-focus on the fouls was the right thing to do for the game.  Whether it gets the results the NCAA wants is another matter.  It may be that the lower scoring games are how things are going to look.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

On the road....Bronco Preview

OK, so BG makes its first road trip to Kalamazoo to play the WMU Broncos.  That's a tough opening assignment for the Falcons.

BG has a two-game winning streak against WMU, which is notable because they had lost something like 14 out of 15 before that in all manner of venues.  BG won the last game at K-Zoo.

Still, WMU is 6-1 at home, including a smack-down of the Rockets, who are, as I write this, about to score a double-digit win at the JAR.  Overall, they are 9-6 with 1 non-D1 win.  They opened the season with a very good win over New Mexico State.  The remainder of their wins are less impressive.  On the other hand, their worst loss was @Northwestern, which has an RPI of 150, so there are no bad losses on the docket.

They are 2-1 in the MAC.  They won vs UT, @Miami and then lost in a blowout @EMU.

FWIW, twice they have been held under 40 points this year, which is 1 time more than BG.  Never at home, though.

WMU has always played a very physical game.  During last year's game, they were very physical.  They seem to have adjusted to whatever is going on in the college game, however.  they are only getting 1.7 fouls more per game than last year and they are in the middle of the NCAA pack, so it appears to have not been an issue.

Here is how the basic game stacks up.  WMU has been a very efficient team on offense and BG has been very efficient team on defense.  We have wondered for a while how BG would defend against a good opponent, and we'll find out more tomorrow.  As noted, there have been a couple stinko offensive performances for WMU, but on average they have been efficient.  They have typically played at 67-68 possessions, which is the same as BG and right around the NCAA average.

On the other end, WMU is a good defensive team, considerably better than the NCAA average.  BG is going to need to bring the offense they had against CMU in this one against a better defensive team.

Breaking it down a little bit more, we can see what has made the offense efficient.  They are a solid shooting team (45% and 32%).  They try about twice as many 3s as BG does, which is still not a lot.  They take decent care of the ball, are above average on the offensive boards and get to the line a ridiculous amount.   That's the 10th best FT% rate in the country, and they are 11th in the country in terms of percentage of point from FTs.  They shoot 70%, which is just a little above average but good enough when you are getting all those attempts.

That's a good place to keep your eye on.  BG has done a nice job keeping teams off the line, as you can see, but this will be a challenge.  And, I am concerned about offensive rebounds.  The season numbers are similar, but BG has not always excelled in this area, and will need to at least do this well in order to get the stops they need to win...which is a big number.

Flipping things around, this looks to be a pretty even .  WMU is allowing its opponents to shoot pretty much where BG has been shooting so far.  WMU does not create a lot of turnovers and they are just OK on the offensive boards.  They are keeping teams off the line (they have tried 94 more FTs than their opponents).  BG is going to need to get to the line and make FTs for this road game.

Individually, the Broncos are lead by the MAC's leading scorer, 6'3" SR G David Brown, who is scoring 18.8 points per game.  He is not terribly efficient...he is shooting only 41% with 29% from 3 (#7 in MAC, surprisingly) and he leads the MAC in 3FG attempts.  BG has been mixing zone and man, but this would seem to point us to the idea that BG is going to need to play man and take care of Brown.

Shayne Whittington is also a very effective player.  He's scoring 13.8 points per game on 49% shooting and 9 rebounds per game, which is 3rd in the MAC.  He is 6'11" and a Sr.  Obviously, this is a big assignment for Cam Black and the BG bigs.

They are supplemented by a very good 6'5" SO...Conner Tava.  He is scoring 13 points a game on 63% shooting and adds 5 rebounds per game.

This is a tough assignment for BG.  BG has won on the road and has shown the ability to compete in a tough assignment (EG, Xavier), but there's no margin for error.  They have to play good defense against a team that can play inside and out, avoid fouling, play physical and then BG has to bring at least a respectable offensive effort.

Three Offensive Tiers for BG....

I noticed an interesting trend for the BG men's basketball team when I was looking at points per possession.  In a way I don't recall seeing for any team so far, there have actually been 3 BG offensive teams this year.  As you can see above, the offensive games are clumped together in discrete groups...Those above 1.08, between .98 and .92, and then below .78.  Those gaps are just really unusual.

So there is Team A.  This is a good offensive team.  In D1 this year, the median team is scoring 1.06 points per possession.  In 4 games BG has scored higher than that, and they have won each of those games.  This team has yet to show up on the road.

Then, there is Team B.  This team is well below average and BG is 2-4 in that group, including a road win @Morehead State.

Finally, there is Team C, an awful offensive team.  BG is 0-5 in those games, including 3 home losses.  Even sadder is that BG played pretty good defense in a few of these games, and essentially wasted some pretty good offensive performances.  Anyway, you'd be hard pressed to win any games at that kind of efficiency.  The IPFW game was .28 points per possession below average.

Taking B and C together, BG is 2-9 in games where is scored less than 1 point per possession and 4-0 when it scores above 1.08.  (I eliminated the Earlham game).

Anyway, the key point here is that the offense is either decent, bad or terrible and the team has needed at least decent offense to win consistently.

BG Football Class Looks ready to lose 2nd O-lineman

The news from twitter appears to be that BG's 2nd O-lineman in next year's class has de-committed and will head elsewhere.  As you can see, he has a Big 10 offer from Minnesota and is visiting Miami.   Weyler is from Centrville, a long-time BG pipeline.

People are going to jump on this and blame it on the switch to a spread offense.  I wouldn't over interpret what is going on.  The first young man is playing at a very good FBS FCS program near home and this young man has a Big Ten offer.

And, when BG was playing effective spread football, they always had a strong o-line.  I'm sure it remains a priority.

BG still has 2 o-lineman in the class.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Falcon POV Video on making a Kill--Very Cool.

Jack Carle of Sentinel-Tribune Interviews Coach Babers

Jack Carle of the Sentinel had a chance to sit down and talk with Coach Babers.  It is absolutely worth a read.  Our new coach is certainly an interesting guy.  Yeah, I mean, he did the whole, "no job is guaranteed thing" which is what everyone always says, but there's stuff in there about him not being into making guys wrestle on mats (something I like), treating the current team like champions, and why he isn't watching any game film from last year.

The one thing to note is about recruiting.  He expects to sign about 20 guys and it sounds like what we have right now is more or less going to be what we will move forward with...which is all well and good as long as they turn out to be good players, which is no different than any other year.  Some guys are in school, but he's going to reveal all that on 2/5.  The assistants will be formally announced after that.

No players have asked for a release.

Anyway, check the story out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Much needed victory for Falcon Men's Hoopsters...

BG really needed a win last night...on a 4 game losing streak and coming off a dreadful game on Sunday...and they got it.  It was a 10-point win against CMU, and yeah, that's a win you should get at home, but BG hadn't been getting games like that.  The schedule gets tougher...moving forward at 0-3 would have been a disaster.

BG played the kind of game they were playing in December, back in the better times.

First, I felt BG played very good defense.  BG mixed man and zone defenses, and were effective in both but especially the zone.  BG was running traps off the zone and even when CMU slipped the trap, BG provided help and everyone rotated back into place and CMU would have to reset the offense.  In particular, I thought Cam Black played a great game.  CMU's bigs play outside, so he was actually guarding the perimeter in man defense and I thought he did a great job.  He played very athletically and with agility.  Simons scored only 7 points and only got 5 shots off.

BG held CMU to .92 points per possession, which is well below their average.  The Chips shot 40% and 39%, which are slightly below average, but BG committed only 12 fouls and CMU turned the ball over on 25% of their possessions.

The second reason is the offensive attack.  When BG was going strong, they had Holmes and Parker both producing, and in this game, they got that and added Henderson as well.  Holmes had what is becoming a pretty normal game...20 points on 7 of 8 shooting, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks.  Guy is a very good player.

What helped the most was that Spencer Parker was back.  Parker had 12 points in the two MAC games to date, but came up with 20 on 7 of 11 shooting to go with 5 rebounds.  He also had 4 turnovers, which is something that is a problem.  He is in his first season as a regular, which is something that needs to be kept in mind.  He made 2 3FGs as well, something he has been really struggling with.

Anthony Henderson added 13 points as well.  He shot 4 of 10 and 2 of 7 from 3, and while those are not great numbers, they did provide some outside threat.  He got to the rim a couple of times, too.

Jehvon Clarke continues to struggle with his shot.  He was 3 of 12 shooting.  However, he did have 7 assists over 3 turnovers, which is his highest assist total since the Detroit game and his 2nd straight game with a A/T ratio of 2:1, after 3 straight when he had more turnovers than assists.

Observation:  when this team misses a jumper, it isn't close.

CMU was playing a 2-3 zone, which we know BG has struggled with.  From our preview we knew that Central was neither a great nor an awful defensive team, just a little below average.  The Falcons came up with 1.08 points per possession, tied for their 3rd best D1 performance this year.  They got 1.08 against Presbyterian, for example.

As a team, BG shot 49% overall and 33% from 3, the former number good and the latter number is at least an improvement.  Perhaps most importantly, BG took much better care of the ball, with only 12 turnovers against a CMU defense that employed a lot of pressure and traps.  Finally, BG made 73% of their free throws, which was sorely needed.  CMU won the battle of the boards on both ends, but that was the only place that BG did not get the better of the game.

In terms of game flow, the key part of the game, the end of the first half was really the key stretch.  BG was down 26-19 with about 5 minutes left and the whole thing had a pretty sour feel to it.  To their credit, BG rallied when it might have been easier not to, and BG scored 14 points in 5 minutes (after 35 in 40 Sunday) to lead by 5 at the half.  Parker had 5, Holmes 4, Henderson 3 and Clarke 2 on the run.

In the second half, BG had a little 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 10 and had a 14 point lead with about 14 to play.  The Chips got it back to 5 with about 9 minutes left, but Parker converted an old-school 3 point play to stem the tide.  CMU didn't get the lead inside 10 again until there were almost 2 minutes left in the game, but they never got the spread inside 7 and the Falcons made FTs and coasted home to a comfortable win.

Looking ahead on the schedule, we see right away why this was an important win.  BG plays 3 times in 7 games next week...@WMU Sunday, @OU Wednesday and then Miami on Saturday at the Stroh.  At default settings, BG goes 1-2 next week.  Anything could happen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chris Jones Report from New England

More on Chris Jones, who is doing us all proud.  He had 2 solo tackles and 2 assist-tackles against Indy, as well as the sack you see above.

And, as you can see, he continues to generate productivity that is uncharacteristic for an interior lineman, just as he did at BG.

Cut by the worst team in football.  Cut by Tampa.  Playing in the AFC Championship.  Good stuff.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chip Preview

So, the home stand comes to an end with BG trying to avoid a complete o-fer.  Certainly, the opposition is right, but it was Sunday and when IPFW were in town, too, and that didn't seem to help.

CMU is 7-7 with 2 non-D1 wins that has lost its last 4 D1 games.  Their last D1 win was December 7.  Their best win, RPI-wise, is over Cal-State Northridge (234) and they lost @Jacksonville State (332).  They lost by 7 at home to Miami and then they lost by 15 @Toledo.  They do have 2 road wins.  They lost to Detroit, a team BG beat.

On paper, they are a pretty good offensive team, but that's a little misleading.  They scored 228 points in their 2 non D1 games, so they are scoring 1.13 points per possession for the year, which is well above the national average.  They have several games over 1.18 points per possession (6 of their wins, in fact), so I think it is safe to say they are an above average offense, at least against the competition they have played.

They had 1.04 against UT and .97 against Miami.

If they go play well on offense, it will be an interesting test for BG.  Coach Orr praised his defense in the post-game presser, and there have been some lowing scoring totals for BG's opponents as well (just not as low) but it remains to be seen if BG is playing good defense.  One thing is certain.  They can't allow CMU to score consistently...I'm not sure we want to put ourselves in that position.

Flipping it around, CMU is a poor defensive team.  They have only held 2 D1 opponents under 1.07 points per possession and the allowed UD 1.26.  If BG is going to get well against a MAC defense, this is the chance.  Of course, CMU is sitting up there in Mt. Pleasant saying "if we're going to stop somebody, these guys are the ones."

In the chart below, we can see how CMU gets their production.  They're a pretty good shooting team.  They shoot 45% overall and 30% on 3s, which is not good but they shoot A TON of them.  In one fewer game, they have taken almost twice as many 3s as BG has.  No team has taken more treys than CMU has in the MAC and they are 3rd in made 3s and only 9th in %.  Anyway, they combine that with an excellent turnover rate, and you have strong rankings on the two most important factors.  They average a little above average in offensive rebounds.  Lastly, they don't get to the line a ton by that make 76% of their FT attempts.

On defense, they are allowing teams to shoot 47% so far this year and 35% from beyond the arc.  In short, this game represents a chance for BG to make some shots.  CMU does force a decent amount of turnovers and they are above average protecting the offensive boards.  Finally, they are keeping teams off the line.  In other words, most elements of their defense are pretty decent, its just the shot where they struggle.

They are led by two pretty good players.  First, Chris Fowler, who is second in the MAC with 17 points per game.  He's efficient too, shooting 60% from the field and he's only 6'1".  He's also 3rd in the MAC with 5 assists per game.  He's just a SO, but he's been a very effective player for the Chips this year.

Their second leading player is John Simons who is scoring 11.7 PPG on 52% shooting.  He's also averaging 6 rebounds per game.  He is 6'8", also a SO, but an inside-outside threat.  He's shooting 41% on 63 3FG attempts.

Their other double-figure scorer is Braylon Rayson, a 5'9" FR, who is averaging 10 PPG on 43% shooting.

BG has lost 4 in a row and 3 in a row at home.  This is a winnable game and if BG has any hope of a respectable season--say a home first round game--they need to start to win, especially against teams that are on the lower end of the MAC.  Because of the contrasting styles, it has the potential to be an interesting game, at least.  BG is playing terribly, but they're better than this.  Maybe with Zach Denny getting into the rotation, the Falcons can get some shots to fall against a porous CMU defense and win the game.

I'm not in the locker room.  I suspect they could use it, though.

Football Opponents Released...

Not too much to work with here...the MAC has released the non-conference opponents for the MAC dates or times, but we do at least know who we are playing and not playing.

The biggest surprise is that BG is not playing Miami.  Remember that the MAC East has 7 teams, so a full round robin is not possible.  Don't know how they decide, but BG will not play the RedHawks, much like they did not play Akron for a few years.

For older fans this is too bad.  That's a long-standing rivalry (granted, jam packed with Falcon heartbreak) and in the 1960s was the biggest rivalry we had.  Also, it was somebody we usually drew a good crowd for, which all adds up to a disappointing announcement.

In MAC play, BG has cross-over games with Ball State, WMU and UT.  Ball State was good this year but lost some guys and WMU is still rowing the boat and it isn't clear where they will be and they will be home games.  UT, of course, will be on the road, as BG tries to break out of the losing streak.  In MAC, it just reflects last year's results...BG has 2 East games at home and 3 away, but one of those is UMass, so that probably evens it out.  Going to Akron is likely to become  a more difficult assignment.

The other stuff is the pre-season schedule...BG will play @Petrino-Free WKU, have VMI and Indiana at home and then @Wisconsin.

From the BGSU release:

BGSU's season will begin with four straight non-conference matchups, as the Falcons will travel to Western Kentucky on Thursday, August 28 to kickoff the 2014 season. The Falcons will begin the home slate on September 6, when they host VMI. The final two non-conference matchups will see the Orange and Brown take on two Big Ten Conference foes, as BG hosts Indiana (Sept. 13) before traveling to Wisconsin (Sept. 20).
Although the MAC has not released the dates and times of the eight conference matchups, Bowling Green is set to play four games at home and four road games during league play. The Falcons will host Buffalo, Kent State, Ball State, and Western Michigan while traveling to Akron, Ohio, UMass, and Toledo.

Monday, January 13, 2014

MAC Recap, Two Games in...

Its early....two games in with 16 more to go for the regular season MAC title.  Just a second to check in...the key at this point isn't the record, but who you have played and beaten...and have you lost at home or won on the road.

Akron for example, is 2-0.  That's with 2 road wins.  They won @Ball State, which is good because it was on the road, and once at OU, because OU was looking very strong.  The latter was a 2OT thriller.  Anyway, with 2 road wins, Akron is off to a nice start.

Buffalo is 2-0, both at home.  They thumped NIU, which is a game you should win at home and then they beat EMU at home, which could later turn out to be a pretty nice win.  Still, they have not played on the road yet.

WMU is 2-0.  That's a home win over the road-challenged Rockets and then a road win over Miami.

Speaking of Toledo...they are 1-1 with a win at home (CMU) and the WMU loss on the road.  That's holding serve in the MAC.

Ohio is 1-1 with a home loss to Akron and a road win over Kent.

Miami is 1-1.  I think Miami might be better than people think.  They won @Cetntral but then turned around and lost at home to WMU.

Kent (1-1) has played two at home, losing to OU and beating Ball State.

EMU (1-1) has played both their games on the road.  They won @BG and lost @Buffalo.  Still, 1-1 without playing at home is not a terrible position.

NIU (1-1) has played twice on the road, losing to Buffalo and beating BG.

Three teams are 0-2.  BG is the only team with two home losses in the MAC.  CMU and Ball State have both lost once at home and once on the road.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rock bottom? Falcons score 36 at home, lose.

It was about as ugly as it can get.  BG was playing a not good NIU team, which put two not good teams on the same floor and the result was about as bad as it could be.

BG lost 45-36.  It was their lowest point total since 1994 in a game in Oxford.  Based on my review, it is the lowest total for a home game in 71 years when BG beat the boys from Camp Perry.  There have been only 7 D1 teams to score fewer points this season.  Only one--Marquette--was at home.

So, you know.  There you are.  There's not a lot to say about it.  BG shot 29% overall, 23% from 3FG, 43% from the FT line.  BG had 17 turnovers in a 58 possession game, which means they coughed the ball up on almost 30% of their possessions and they shot horribly in the other 70% of the possessions.  The .62 points per possession is the lowest since the 2010-11 game @MSU.  No comparable home performance can be found.

NIU was not much better.  They shot 33%, 40% from 3 and 46% from the line.  They did have 4 fewer turnovers and got 38% of their available offensive rebounds (BG got 23%) and those extra possessions were the difference.

It was nothing to be proud of for NIU, either.  But for BG to lose at home in this fashion to this team--it was a very humbling day.  Losing would have been bad enough, but losing like this was a pretty low moment.

As usual, Richaun Holmes was the only real contributor.  He had 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks.  The rest?  Um.  You know, I'm not going to go through them one by one.  Without Holmes, the rest of the guys were a collective 7 of 31.  That's a collective sin.

One positive element and maybe the only positive element, was the debut of Zach Denny.  He shot 2 of 5, but he was 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and they were WAY beyond the arc.  This team badly needs an outside shooter, and let us hope he gets the chance to pull those defenses out a little bit.  He seemed to settle into the game and is in a position to make a contribution to a team that is badly lost.

In the post-game presser, John Wagner finally asked about the elephant in the room.  He asked Coach Orr if he "had concerns about his job."

"What concerns would I have?" Coach said.  And it was not a flippant answer.  If you get a chance, yo might hop over and check out the last couple minutes of the presser on  Coach said that he isn't worried because "God is his provider" and he trusts his will.  I have to say, I hear people talk like this from time to time, but I believe Coach Orr is 100% sincere in what he believes.  I don't share his views on the subject, but I do respect him and his beliefs.

This is as bad a start as could have been imagined for his team.  They are 0-2 at home to start the season.  That means only 7 more games at home and 9 on the road.  If you can't beat NIU at home, you have to wonder who you can beat.  Certainly, just for discussion, UT, OU, Akron, and Kent are on the very unlikely list.  You could go on and on.  This has the chances to be historically bad for the Falcons if things do not get turned around.

That starts with another winnable game Wednesday against CMU.  We're a little past the must-win stage here.  This is starting to feel as bad or worse than it was feared to be.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

NIU preview

So the Falcons come right back at it tomorrow at the Stroh Center.  I don't know how to put this any other way.  Expectations were low this year and then things looked like they might be better and then things are looking bad again...if BG does not win this game, we're back to the low or lower expectations we had to start with.

 NIU is 6-7 this year, with five wins against teams of an RPI over 250 and one against a non D1 team.  They have on twice on the road, once against Loyola-Chicago and once against UC-Riverside, both sub-300 teams.  They lost their MAC opener by 21 @Buffalo.

I'm a little surprised at their points per possession, which are lousy but not as bad as I expected.  I believe we will find this to be an anomaly.  They scored 111 in one game against a non-D1 team.  Their high point total is 71 for the season and they dropped .72 points per possession against Buffalo.

Anyway, remembering that average points per possession is 1.05 this year in D1, we are clearly looking at two teams that are not very good on offense and better than average on defense.  I don't see either team having the ability to run away from the other, and I would anticipate a pretty ugly affair Sunday.

Looking into the numbers more closely...we have talked about how poor a shooting team BG is, but NIU is, in fact, worse.  They make only 39% of their overall FG attempts, and make 25.9% of their 3FGs, which is almost the same as BG.  This is a team that struggles to put the ball in the basket.  Also, they are turn the ball over as much as BG does.  They are good on the offensive boards and they get to the line a lot, but they shoot 67% which is below average.  In short, there is nothing here to suggest the NIU is as good on offense as their overall efficiency number suggests.  BG has been pretty good on its own defensive boards and at not fouling, so I think this looks like a pretty good matchup.

Flipping things around, you can see that NIU is used to holding teams to worse shooting than BG is getting.  In fact, these numbers are all pretty close, which means you can probably expect BG's normal offensive game.  It will be interesting to see how NIU defends BG...I would expect a lot of lane packing, but who knows?  They don't have Riley, either way.

Individually speaking, it is important to remember than no Huskie is averaging more than 25 minutes a game and 11 are averaging 10 minutes or more.  Their leading scorer is Dontel Highsmith, who is averaging 10.5 points per game on 54% shooting.  Highsmith is a 6'2" FR G.  

Their second leading scorer is Darrell Bowie at an inefficient 9.8 points, shooting 36%.  He's a 6'6" SO who also averages 7.3 rebounds per game.

The team has six players who have taken 60 shots or more and average 37% or less.  FR Aaric Armstead is shooting 28%.

Sunday's game will, therefore, feature two of the least productive teams in D1 on offense.  I have to believe that Falcons win this one at home, but, as mentioned, if they don't we're in for a long cold season at the Stroh.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Blade on Falcon Football Assistants

So cobbling together twitter feeds and local news reports, The Blade has ascertained that Dino Babers will bring 7 assistants from EIU and the university has apparently announced the Nick Monroe and Larry McDaniel will be staying.  

If this pans out, I think this post I did in December turned out pretty accurate.

Coaches do this different ways.  Coach Clawson took his higher level guys to Wake but then filled in with some new guys.  Babers has brought nearly his entire staff with him to BG.  There's no right way or wrong way...there are ways that work and ways that don't.  Coach Babers needs the staff he feels comfortable with because he's ultimately accountable for the wins and losses that result.  Obviously, this group was successful at EIU and I look forward to seeing them go to work at the Doyt!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Offensive Woes....

Not to put too fine a point on it...or to beat a dead horse, but here are the rankings for the BG offense so far in D1....all of these are ranked out of 351 total teams.

Points per possession:  335
Free Throw %:  333
3FG%:  345
% of total points from 3FG: 350
Turnover %: 312
FG%:  218

Translation.  BG turns the ball over more than 89% of the teams in D1.  When they do get a shot, they are lousy at making 3s.  Which means that in order to score, you would need to be super efficient on the rest of your shots...which BG is not, based on overall FG%.  The news is this: In overall efficiency, that nets out to the #335 offense in the nation.

EMU Packs Paint, Beats BG

This is who I feared we were.

The EMU Eagles had a foolproof game plan for beating BG.  Put five guys in the paint and dare the BG shooters to let fly.

It worked.  BG shot 31% for all shots and 19% from 3FG...and turned the ball over on 23% of its offensive possessions and then shot 57% from the FT line.  That's ugly.  It equals out to 51 points and .74 points per possession.  That is the second worst for the season (St. Louis), but here is the key thing...BG has been under .78 points per possession in each of the last 3 games.

It is ugly and you aren't going to play good enough defense to overcome that.  The best defensive team in the country allows .81 per game.  In fact, that's exactly what BG held EMU to, but it wasn't enough to win.

In fact, EMU shot 35% and 14%, only marginally better than BG.  The difference was that they tried 9 fewer 3FGs, had 4 fewer turnovers and made 70% of their free throws for a +5 at the line.

Only Richaun Holmes shot the ball well.  He had 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting to go with 7 rebounds.  He did struggle at the line (57%), but he was really our only effective offensive player.

BG's guards were 7 of 28.  Jehvon Clarke was 4 of 18 on his own with 5 turnovers.  He was 2-9 from 3.  On top of that, Spencer Parker was 3 of 9 and Cam Black was 1 of 5.  JD Tisdale took only 1 FG attempt and had 4 fouls and 3 turnovers in 18 minutes.

The problem is that the shooting woes for the guards is nothing new.  When BG was getting results, it was from Black and Parker getting to the basket.  Teams seem to be taking that away, and it has exposed us on the offensive end.

That's a 3-game losing streak, with 2 of them coming at home.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the next 7 days BG will play NIU and CMU at the Stroh...this is the soft part of the schedule.  If this doesn't get figured out quickly, there's going to be a huge hole.

The good news (or the promising news) is that BG is playing very good defense.  Leading the MAC in defensive efficiency, in fact.  So, the offense doesn't have to get very much better to help.  The worrisome thing is that teams have to have seen this and it will be copied.  In conference play, the grind is the grind.  No one has time to do anything but win the next game, and until BG beats this strategy, I think you will see it continue.